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KidOYO Information Night

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Community Stands Up to Cancer at Homecoming

Community Stands Up to Cancer at Homecoming photo

On Saturday, Sept. 29, the district held their homecoming parade and football game — culminating the weeklong celebration of Harborfields spirit and pride.

Following Friday night’s pep rally, where seniors Eric Werbitsky and Kate Driver were crowned king and queen, students put the finishing touches on their floats for the parade Saturday morning. This year’s theme was “Generations: HF Through the Years”, and just as in years past, students went above and beyond with their designs. In grade order, themes included the Prehistoric Age, Medieval Times, Wild West, and 60’s & 70’s.

As the floats traveled from the Harborfields Public Library to the high school, students waved to the crowds of community members lining the sidewalks. Many students walked alongside the floats as well, collecting donations to fund research for childhood cancer, which is near to the Harborfields community’s heart. For homecoming week, HHS joined the Greenlawn Civic Association in their “Greenlawn Goes Gold” movement, which was developed and put into action by sophomore Natalie Pedrazzi. Along with collecting donations, cancer awareness gold ribbons were available for purchase, and all proceeds from the awareness week went to Maggie’s Mission. This local organization supports awareness and funds pediatric cancer research, and came into existence in honor of Maggie Schmidt, a Harborfields High School student who lost her battle with cancer in 2017.

At the homecoming game, the spirit-filled crowd anxiously awaited the start of the game against Eastport South Manor. Some crowd members had large cutouts of players’ heads and shook them wildly and cheered when the team ran out onto the field. The Harborfields cheerleaders, marching band and kick line all worked together in pepping up the crowd, and there was no lack of spirit in the stands that day.

At the end of the first quarter, Harborfields held its first ever “Stand Up 2 Cancer” event, which was initiated by students Catherine Capodanno and Brooke Semmelmeier. Throughout the week and the morning of the game, those in attendance were able to purchase signs to write the name of a loved one battling with cancer. When the moment came, community members all over the stadium stood up in support, holding their golden signs high in recognition of loved ones and their immense strength in the battle.

The Harborfields Tornadoes competed fiercely against ESM throughout the game, but unfortunately lost by three points, with the final score being 29-26.

Creating a Climate of Inclusion and Acceptance

Creating a Climate of Inclusion and Acceptance photo

In an effort to further build a community of inclusion and acceptance, TJL participated in “Start with Hello” week, beginning on Sept. 24. This program, created by Sandy Hook Promise, focuses on uniting people of all beliefs and backgrounds and creating climates of inclusion to prevent social isolation—and to ultimately protect children from gun violence.

“Awareness weeks such as “Start with Hello” are so important for our students,” said school Psychologist Michelle Meskin, “because it teaches them that no member of any community should ever feel isolated, alone or excluded.”

Throughout the week, students were encouraged to make efforts to say hello to someone new and to perform random acts of kindness. Additionally, students participated in some ice-breaker activities, such as “In My Shoes” and “Human Bingo.” Children learned how to realize when someone is reaching out for help, how to accept differences in their peers, and more. Students and staff truly gave their hearts to the weeks’ mission, and had discussions on how to reach beyond “Start With Hello Week” and to incorporate inclusiveness and acceptance into the school year, and the following years to come.

“My brother and I have a competition going to see who can say hello to the most new people each day,” said Emerson, a fourth-grader at Thomas J. Lahey. “It’s been so much fun, and it’s making so many people happy.”

Top County and State Musicians

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10 HHS students have been selected for the NYSCAME All-County Music Festival. Out of those students, three have also been selected for the NYSSMA All-State Festival.

NYSCAME All-County is composed of the highest-scoring NYSSMA musicians across Suffolk County. These outstanding students, along with other top ranked musicians, will be taking participating in three intensive rehearsal sessions that culminate with a concert in November.

NYSSMA All-State is based on NYSSMA scores and how those scores compare to other students at the same level across the entire state. The students selected will be traveling to Rochester from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 to participate in a weekend of intensive rehearsals and a final concert at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

“I couldn't be prouder of these students,” said Music Department Coordinator Daniel Bilawsky. “What they've achieved is a testament to their hard work and to that of their teachers."

Congratulations, students!

NYSSMA All-State Music Festival
Everett Borman - String Orchestra, Viola
Jackson McGill - Mixed Chorus, Tenor
Celia Spero - Treble Chorus, Alto

NYSCAME /Suffolk All-County Festival Groups
Evangelea Andreadis - Orchestra, Viola
Everett Borman - Orchestra, Violin & Viola
Jared Buchholtz - Band, Trumpet/Cornet
Eric Cadalzo- Band, Trumpet/Cornet
Michela Eivers - Mixed Chorus, Alto
Rochelle Kris - Orchestra, Viola
Hope Lusby - Orchestra, Violin
Madison Maiella - Treble Chorus, Soprano
Jackson McGill - Mixed Chorus, Tenor
Celia Spero – Mixed Chorus, Alto

Annual Tri-M Induction

Annual Tri-M Induction photo
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On Monday Sept. 24 the HHS chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society held its annual induction ceremony. Twelve new student members and fourteen continuing student members were inducted into this prestigious organization which recognizes and emphasizes academic success, service to the community, and musical achievement. Additional inductees included the evening’s guest speaker, pianist-composer Bonnie Masi, new HHS assistant principal, Ms. Allison Joyce, and three members of the Harborfields Board of Education—Mr. Christopher Kelly, Mr. Joseph Savaglio, and Mr. Steven Engelmann.

The HHS Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Alan Walter, provided processional music for the evening. Additionally, a jazz quartet culled from the HHS Jazz Band with Ty Ellenbogen on alto saxophone, Yatharth Sharma on guitar, Jack Salzman on bass and Matthew Motherway on drums, took those in attendance on a Brazilian detour with a featured performance of the Stan Getz-associated “Manha De Carnaval.”

“The students who were inducted tonight represent the most dedicated members of our music department,” noted Tri-M advisor Ms. Allison Scilla. “We are so grateful for their participation in our program."

Arts-Focused Award of Merit

Arts-Focused Award of Merit photo
HHS student Shannon Tucker was selected as an Award of Merit Recipient by the Long Island Scholar-Artist Program for the 2018-19 school year. This program, sponsored by Long Island Arts Alliance, recognizes academically outstanding students who also excel in the arts.

In addition to submitting a teacher recommendation and essay, students were required to showcase their dedication to the arts. Shannon submitted a series of photographs she captured while in Ireland, which she created to display a different side of the country that isn’t typically seen by tourists.
Shannon is one of 20 students to receive an Award of Merit island-wide and is commended for her success in the arts and ability to excel academically across all subjects.

Congratulations Shannon!

Back to School, Back to Success

Back to School, Back to Success photo
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Talented, dedicated, and innovative students and teachers were honored during the recognition portion of the district’s Board of Education meeting on Sept. 12.

OMS Oldfield Middle School Assistant Principal Joseph Castoro was honored for winning the 2018 Fred Podolski Leadership and Innovation in Technology Visionary Award. This award is given to one Long Island administrator who demonstrates exceptional vision, leadership, and support of initiating use of technology in their school.

“Those who know Mr. Castoro know that his reception of this award is no surprise,” said Dr. Rory Manning. “He is a strong driving force behind the school’s implementation of technology initiatives and tirelessly devotes himself to working towards district goals every day.”

Three students, Catlin Rees, Jenna Cuti, and Sarah Walker, were recognized for their beautiful transformation of the Thomas J. Lahey courtyard. This service project was completed to aid the students in earning their Girl Scout Silver Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve.

OMS English teacher Mary-Lynn Karpenske was acknowledged for having one of her lesson plans selected by Classcraft, an online game-based teaching approach, as “Quest of the Week.” The lesson revolved around Edgar Allen Poe and was featured on the site’s main page for a month. Other teachers and students around the country were able to experience the lesson.

“Using Classcraft is a great social-emotional learning tool that takes a bit of the pressure of grades off the student,” said Mrs. Kapenske, “and focuses more on the progress and learning journey of the student.”

Mrs. Karpenske will be teaching on Classcraft at the Long Island Technology Summit on Oct. 18.

National Merit Semifinalist

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Congratulations to HHS senior Albert Zhang, who was recently named a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship program!

In order to be eligible for recognition and the competitive scholarships that this program offers, high school students are required to take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Approximately 1.6 million students are entered into and screened for the program each year.

After the long-awaited test results were released, Albert was notified that he scored within the top 16,000 students, or the top 1% , of the 1.6 million test-takers nationwide. To compete for one of the final 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, Albert must score well on the upcoming SAT and continue his dedication to academic excellence.

“I’ve always worked hard to learn and understand as much as I possibly can,” said Albert, “and it’s really rewarding to see my hard work pay off.”

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back photo

The district opened its doors for the start of classes on Sept. 5. Each school was abuzz with excitement for the students’ arrival, and many teachers and principals waited outside to greet them. Hallways that were silent all summer came alive with chatter, laughter, and stories.

At Washington Drive, kindergarteners with the entirety of their school career before them hopped off buses first—some sporting backpacks larger than their bodies! Assistant Principal Kathryn McNally, along with other faculty and staff, greeted each one, offering high-fives and wishing them an incredible first day. Once in the building, they formed wiggly lines and followed green footprints on the floor to their new classrooms.

Experienced students confidently traversed the hallways to their classrooms at both Washington Drive and Thomas J Lahey. Children unloaded backpacks, stuffed with fresh supplies, and got to know their classmates through sharing things like their favorite summer memories. Others participated in activities such as “explore your new classroom”—a quasi-scavenger hunt to familiarize thems with the details of the room, such as where the pencil sharpener was, or how many students were in their class.

At Oldfield Middle and Harborfields High School, teachers wasted no time jumping into the syllabus and reviewing topics with students to transition them out of summer-mode. Many incoming middle and high schoolers that needed help navigating the building were guided by experienced students.

“If you ever need help you can always text me, and I’ll meet you at your locker,” an upperclassman told a freshman between classes on the first day. “Don’t worry. You’ve got this.” 

Opportunities for Real-Life Experience

Opportunities for Real-Life Experience photo
With the new school year beginning, the district would like to remind and encourage high school students to take advantage of every opportunity for real-life experience that presents itself! There are endless ways gain experience to help prepare you for life after graduation.

This past June, six HHS students participated in the Junior Achievement High School Heroes—which provides high school students the opportunity to become role models by teaching and empowering elementary students—at Thomas J Lahey. Students worked in teams to mentor students with hands-on, interactive lessons to students centered on work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. The experience was not only fun, but helped high school students learn the basics of skills needed to get a job!

Another experience to take advantage of would be Job Shadow Day—an opportunity for students to visit job sites and “shadow” people who are working in careers of interest. In May 2018, 65 Harborfields students shadowed over 30 mentors at locations such as Southside Hospital, Suffolk County Police, The Paramount, and more. Job Shadow Day is an important part of the district’s Work Based Learning Program. The event is coordinated by Mrs. Alison Matthews, who is also the program coordinator.

Internships are also available to graduating seniors. For example, class of 2018 student Colin Kline completed a very prestigious internship experience at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in June. This was the first time a HHS student participated in this prestigious program.

Students who are interested in developing college and career-readiness skills that bridge the gap between high school and future endeavors are encouraged to explore the Work Based Learning program!

Freshman Forget First Day Jitters

Freshman Forget First Day Jitters photo
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Incoming Harborfields High School students are starting a new season as they step their freshman year. To aid them in the process, HHS is continuing the implementation of the Buddy Program—upperclassmen volunteers who help incoming freshmen with the transition to high school. On Aug. 30, the students were guided by their assigned Buddies through the uncharted landscape of the school, schedules, lockers, and more.

“We’ve all been there—starting something new and feeling a bit nervous,” said new high school assistant principal Allison Joyce. “Providing our freshman with the opportunity to meet with upperclassman, form relationships, while getting those “first day jitters” out of the way helps them better prepare for what it’s going to be like here.”

Throughout the morning tour, buddies shared personal anecdotes with their group, covering everything from hallway-traffic in specific spots, to the course-load in biology.

“I remember how much my Buddy helped me during my first year of high school,” said HHS Meredith, who is now a volunteer in the program. “I want to be there for others the way my Buddy was there for me.”

Harborfields Welcomes New Teachers!

Harborfields Welcomes New Teachers photo
As HF students gear up to head back to school, teachers are doing the same! Our eight new teachers attended an orientation on Aug. 28, helping them get acclimated to the district’s policies, procedures and culture. Throughout the day, new staff members worked closely with another, and district administrators, while getting to know the technological tools that are necessary in the daily life of a Harborfields teacher.

“One of the main goals of the day was to make sure each new teacher was completely comfortable with tools that are integral for teaching and classroom management,” said Dr. Rory Manning, “and each teacher left with a clear an understanding of the necessary tools needed to give Harborfields students with the education we take pride in providing.”

Letter from Superintendent - School Safety

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HACEF Success

HACEF Success

Even though school’s out for the summer months, the district was still bustling with activity thanks to Harborfields Community Educational Foundation’s (HACEF) Summer Camp program. This camp, that just wrapped up for the season, offered four-day camp options for elementary and middle school students throughout the summer. Each week offered a plethora of themed programs — from Harry Potter Camp to Wood Crafting to Summertime Science — and this year’s enrollment boasted 850 students, a number that surpassed last year’s previously record-breaking 680.

Most programs were taught by Harborfields teachers and offered fun ways for children to pursue subjects or hobbies that they gravitate to or are curious about. The STEM centered camps — like Coding, Robotics, and Intro to Video Production — were some of the most popular of the summer and provide students with hands-on learning in a different setting.

“In these camps, students learn skills that they will carry with them,” said HACEF Camp creator and coordinator Karin Fey. “And we hope that something they learn here will help ignite the pursuit of a lifetime passion.”